"He was really important to me the last two years as I waited for my chance to play," said Newton, who will be UK's starting quarterback Thursday in Nashville when the Cats open the season against Western Kentucky. "When you come into the SEC and you are away from home and don't play as much as you wish you could, sometimes you want to go home and talk to somebody to get a different opinion. He has been great about just being patient, taking your time and work on learning as much as you can learn. We were able to get through it.
"It is kind of his job to be brutally honest. There were times he was and that is one reason I?am where I?am today. I kind of listen to my dad and he knows what is best. That's why I listen to him, and always have."
Dr. Newton, who played football at Grambling State University in Louisiana, says there were difficult times for his son, a four-star recruit out of Indianapolis who went 5-3 in eight starts in 2009 after Mike Hartline was injured and also started UK's bowl loss to Pittsburgh to end the 2010 season after Hartline was suspended.
"He is 20 now. Some things that have changed, but I still give my advice whether he wants to take it or not," Dr. Newton laughed and said. "That comes from my experience with my own dad. He is 85 and I never tell him to shut up. Dad calls him about every day, too
"With young folks you have to give them as much information as you can and they can figure it out from there. We talk just as much. Some things I?am try to back off. Still there are times he will call and will have things going on and want know to what should I do. It is not always football related. It could be things going on as far as college life. He is doing fine. But I tell all my sons there will be times for them to lean on each other because I will not always be around. I just give as much advice as I can and hope it sticks."
Something certainly seems to have stuck with the junior because he's been praised by teammates and coaches for everything from offseason workouts to improved field study to better pocket presence to enhanced leadership.
"His confidence level is sky high. All his balls are on point. He's throwing like a NFL guy. He really just has to come out here and prove he can play that way every day and he wants to prove that," junior receiver LaRod King said. "He throws the ball more now than he runs. That's a good thing. His confidence level is sky rocketed. It is like day and night.
"He has stepped up as a leader so quick. He led me. It's like, ‘We are going to do this or that.' There are no options. We came out and did them and got everybody on board. It's like we are one. It's not an individual thing. Everything is a team thing with Morgan now."
Yet even now his father still warns him not to forget the struggles of the past two years.
"You have got to be humble. Things can change on a dime. You just never know," Dr. Newton said. "I will peek at blogs and message boards and you certainly realized that is true then. Some people are just waiting for you to fail."